The Chainlink

http://my.chicagotribune.com/#section/544/article/p2p-79427880/

Although she hasn't been in a bicycle accident, Kathleen King has had her share of close calls on the lakefront path she rides between her home in Andersonville and her office in the Loop.

Most automobile drivers are courteous, but some can get aggressive, she said. That is why her husband suggested she start filming her commute in case she was in an accident. She bought a $100 camera, joining a growing number of bicyclists who are strapping video cameras — commonly referred to as "bike cams" — to their helmets or handle bars to document their commute.

Tom McNeff, the store manager at the Sports Authority on LaSalle Street in Chicago, said personal cameras from the GoPro line are among the store's most popular sporting goods items.

Sales of the high-definition personal cameras increased significantly in the past year or so, peaking during the recent holidays, McNeff said. The cameras also can capture extreme sports and family outings, which also likely contribute to their popularity.

The use of bicycle cameras comes at the nexus of intersecting trends.

Chicago has become more bicycle-friendly, said Jason Jenkins, education specialist and crash support programs manager at the Active Transportation Alliance. Over the past 20 years, Chicago added more than 170 miles of standard bike lanes and marked shared lanes. In 2013 the city launched the bike share program Divvy that has about 400 stations.

At the same time, the city is increasing the use of cameras to manage traffic infractions such as speeding and running red lights. Now bicyclists are embracing the opportunity to police their own safety.

Attorneys say the cameras could be useful in the event of an accident but that bicyclists should use the cameras with caution.

Thomas Pakenas, a principal attorney at Illinois Bike Attorneys and an avid cyclist, deals with about 40 bike crash cases a year.

Although he hasn't had a case in which someone brought in "bike cam" video, he said he's seen devices like GoPro gain popularity in recent years as technology becomes more accessible and affordable.

"It's kind of like insurance. You never need insurance — until something happens," said Pakenas, who occasionally uses his nearly $300 GoPro camera for long-distance commutes.

Cyclists should be careful to follow the rules of the road because video footage could capture their own faults, making their case worse, Pakenas said.

"If you know you're recording it, it makes the bicycle rider more motivated to act in a safe manner because, you know, the tape can go both ways," Pakenas said.

Chicago attorney Gerald Bekkerman also has not handled a court case involving a bike camera but did have one in which video from a bike camera helped settle a claim with an insurance company.

One issue is that video may not always be admissible in court as evidence. In Illinois, he said, video footage is generally admissible for civil cases if relevant, although it is up to the judge.

He also advises cyclists to be careful to set the camera so that it collects a visual, but not audio, record. Illinois eavesdropping laws prohibit recording audio without consent from all involved parties, Bekkerman said.

Some bicyclists, like Scott Wilson, have found cheaper alternatives to the GoPro line.

Wilson, 27, an employee at the Running Away Multisport shop, 2219 N. Clybourn Ave., attaches his dad's dash camera to his bike handlebars to film videos for his blog, where he gives tips to bicyclists.

He recently bought a $100 camera that will attach to the back of the bike.

"It made a lot of sense. I've had some really close calls and I've had some friends get hit. ... It's almost always from behind," said Wilson, who has a 11/2 -mile commute to work.

Still, Wilson said, he doesn't think he will use the dash camera often because he worries it will be stolen. He plans to reserve it for long-distance commutes.

King said she thinks her bike camera is worth strapping on because it has helped her capture some unexpected moments, while also making her feel safer on the road.

One December morning, she saw a horse break free from his handler on Wells Street in Old Town and gallop almost half a mile before he was corralled by a passer-by. Footage of the incident, captured by King's camera, has had thousands of hits on YouTube.

"(The camera is) just another thing on your helmet, so it looks kind of goofy … but I feel safer having it. If you feel safer, then your ride is more enjoyable," she said.

nrajwani@tribune.com

Twitter @naheedrajwani

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Fun but perhaps dangerous. Mounting mirrors, light and now cameras to helmets may seem like a good idea but they can cause a number of problems that make crashes more severe - or even cause crashes.

Michael Schumacher skiing crash: did helmet camera cause head injur...

Be safe out there and carefully consider the unintended (and potentially dangerous) consequences of changes to your gear before you make them.

Painful article.  Glaring omission of one key piece of info--- was the helmet drilled into or otherwise modified to "weaken" it?

Reboot Oxnard said:

Fun but perhaps dangerous. Mounting mirrors, light and now cameras to helmets may seem like a good idea but they can cause a number of problems that make crashes more severe - or even cause crashes.

Michael Schumacher skiing crash: did helmet camera cause head injur...

Be safe out there and carefully consider the unintended (and potentially dangerous) consequences of changes to your gear before you make them.

I thought the Illinois Eavesdropping Act was struck down. If so this attorney needs to keep up with stuff! Plus that would make every parent recording their kids playing in a park with others present an instant felon. (I believe it was a felony)

"He also advises cyclists to be careful to set the camera so that it collects a visual, but not audio, record. Illinois eavesdropping laws prohibit recording audio without consent from all involved parties, Bekkerman said."

I think that only had to do with the specific application to recording police officers in public in the course of their work.
 
Rich S said:

I thought the Illinois Eavesdropping Act was struck down. If so this attorney needs to keep up with stuff! Plus that would make every parent recording their kids playing in a park with others present an instant felon. (I believe it was a felony)

"He also advises cyclists to be careful to set the camera so that it collects a visual, but not audio, record. Illinois eavesdropping laws prohibit recording audio without consent from all involved parties, Bekkerman said."

But recording non-police in public spaces is allowed, right?  

And was the police restriction officially reversed, or did it just not survive the last challenge to it and is still in legal limbo?

h' 1.0 said:

I think that only had to do with the specific application to recording police officers in public in the course of their work.
 
Rich S said:

I thought the Illinois Eavesdropping Act was struck down. If so this attorney needs to keep up with stuff! Plus that would make every parent recording their kids playing in a park with others present an instant felon. (I believe it was a felony)

"He also advises cyclists to be careful to set the camera so that it collects a visual, but not audio, record. Illinois eavesdropping laws prohibit recording audio without consent from all involved parties, Bekkerman said."

"Cyclists should be careful to follow the rules of the road because video footage could capture their own faults, making their case worse, Pakenas said."

I've often wondered about this.  If someone records a ride where they roll through stop signs, or commit other infractions, and then they're in an collision where they didn't do anything wrong at the time of the collision, does the prior behavior have an impact on the case, even if it didn't contribute to the accident?

I don't see why they wouldn't just trim that part of the video out.

JeffB (7+ miles) said:

"Cyclists should be careful to follow the rules of the road because video footage could capture their own faults, making their case worse, Pakenas said."

I've often wondered about this.  If someone records a ride where they roll through stop signs, or commit other infractions, and then they're in an collision where they didn't do anything wrong at the time of the collision, does the prior behavior have an impact on the case, even if it didn't contribute to the accident?

Thanks for including the text of the article in your post.  I am shocked that footage is admissible sometimes.  Is it because it can be altered in some way?  Interesting perspective on "insurance" and how you never know when you might need it.  Almost justifies dropping $300 on the GoPro, it'll be a one time payment for insurance.  I didn't want to mount something on top of my helmet and went for the Veho Micro which clips onto clothing.  DO NOT buy it!  It does not work in cold weather (like below 40F).  The reason I bought it was for the sole purpose of monitoring my winter rides as people are less aware of cyclists. 

Tampering with evidence?

Christine (5.0) said:

I don't see why they wouldn't just trim that part of the video out.

JeffB (7+ miles) said:

"Cyclists should be careful to follow the rules of the road because video footage could capture their own faults, making their case worse, Pakenas said."

I've often wondered about this.  If someone records a ride where they roll through stop signs, or commit other infractions, and then they're in an collision where they didn't do anything wrong at the time of the collision, does the prior behavior have an impact on the case, even if it didn't contribute to the accident?

People are asking how the cam was mounted but the helmet was badly smashed (into pieces) during the accident and, thus far, if anyone knows they aren't talking.

h' 1.0 said:

Painful article.  Glaring omission of one key piece of info--- was the helmet drilled into or otherwise modified to "weaken" it?

Funny that this article just came out as I had an incident on my commute home last night that convinced me to finally get a rear-mounted camera: some psycho driver pulled up behind me at a red light and started yelling at me to move to the right. When I explained I was where I was so as not to impede right-turning vehicles, he decided it was a good idea to rev his engine and lurch his car towards me. He did this several times as I grabbed my bike and got out of his way.

Had I captured the incident on camera, I would have ridden straight to the police station so that this asshole could learn his actions have consequences before he injures or kills someone. 

This also reminds me of this anti-harassment law, which would allow bikers to pursue claims against such sociopaths in civil court when the police cannot be bothered: http://www.mybikeadvocate.com/2012/12/a-bicyclist-anti-harassment-b.... I wonder what the chances of getting such a law passed in Illinois are. Is this the sort of thing Active Trans would be able to pursue?

I had the exact same thing happen to me at an intersection in Wicker Park.  I was so dumbfounded by him not understanding why I was leaving space for right-turning vehicles that I didn't know what to say.  The guy pulled up next to me, revved his engine, and cut me off as soon as the light turned green.  He got pretty close to me.  Be careful out there, everyone.

David Altenburg said:

Funny that this article just came out as I had an incident on my commute home last night that convinced me to finally get a rear-mounted camera: some psycho driver pulled up behind me at a red light and started yelling at me to move to the right. When I explained I was where I was so as not to impede right-turning vehicles, he decided it was a good idea to rev his engine and lurch his car towards me. He did this several times as I grabbed my bike and got out of his way.

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